You can find iron in dark green leafy vegetables, prune juice, dried beans and bulgur. Interestingly, studies indicate that iron deficiency appears to be no more common in vegetarians than in meat-eaters, possibly because vegetarians know they are at risk and eat to deal with that. “In our lab we have noticed that when people become vegetarian, the amount of iron in their diet actually goes up. By eating legumes and green leafy vegetables, they tend to consume larger amounts of the nutrient, making up for the worse absorption of ‘non-heme’ iron,” says Barnard.
Another source of concern for some boomers who go vegetarian is calcium. “Post-menopausal women are prone to osteoporosis, which has mistakenly prompted some doctors to recommend dairy products,” says Barnard. “However, the Nurses’ Health Study conducted at Harvard University showed that women who drank milk had as many fractures as those who avoided it.” Unless vegans consume a lot of fortified tofu and soy milk, as well as green leafy vegetables and beans, their intake of calcium may be inadequate. A review of nine studies published in 2009 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that the risk of fracture in vegans is about 10 percent higher than in omnivores. The good news is that lacto-ovo vegetarians (those who eat diary products and eggs) are not any more likely to break their hips or wrists than people who eat meat.